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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Word Flow


Which is more pretentious, to say, “en hommage a,” or “with a tip of the hat to?” One’s French, the other one smacks of smug British intellectuals. It’s a tough call. So this post is en hommage a, and with a stylistic tip of the cap to – Dan O’Sullivan.

There – that’s enough pretention to make Mother Teresa want to punch me in the nose. (I know I want to.)

So I was sitting at the bus station last night, and somebody handed me a couple of brownies. I took out my battered laptop and started writing. I felt strange – free – not nearly as pissed at the world as I usually feel.
I like brownies. Brownies are good. Here’s what appeared on my scratched and grubby screen.

The Flow of Words

I love words like onomatopoeia. Sure it doesn’t sound like what it is, but what the heck – it’s rhythmic – though it does sound like a place you get lunch out of vending machines. Most words are utilitarian, like they came out of the snack machine of word formation to add empty calories to our vocabulary. Words like onomatopoeia are lyrical. They are crafted for form as well as function.

Whoops – got a little artsy there.
Existential is a crafted word. It’s so special that people use it all the time without having a clue what it means. I don’t mean just stupid people. I don’t think Camus or Sartre understood the word Existential any more than Thoreau or Emerson understood Transcendental.

Now I’m sounding philosophical. I think I need a beer. Maybe I should order a pizza. Anybody got ten bucks?

But what I’m saying is… who really gives a Flying Wallenda what some words really mean? There are words that are fun to say and should be said in blissful ignorance just to hear them fly by our ear lobes.

PhalaropesExpeditiousOccidental! (Wheeeeeeeeeee!)

Sometimes they come in pairs. I remember the first time I heard my brother talk about Woofers and Tweeters. Of course I giggled. I thought he was talking dirty. It turned out he was just being an… audiophile. (I like the sound of that!)

Warp and woof is another good pair. It makes my bed sheet sound like it’s woven out of Star Wars characters.

Excrement is a crappy word. Elimination was much more pleasant until American Idol ruined it.

Olfactory should be one of the good ones, but something about it just doesn’t smell right.

Abbreviation seems like an unusually long word for what it means.

Interrogative makes me think of ogres beating me with clubs. I guess I don’t like being questioned.

Interjection sounds like an act of stabbing.

Damn straight!” says the drunk looking over my shoulder. I gotta find someplace better to write.

What is a participle, and why does it only seem to live in the past? Who can tell me (without looking it up) the difference between transitive and intransitive? You won’t answer? You’re just being intransigent - or maybe you're like me.  You looked it up and still have no idea.

Do you think this post is abnormal? We can’t always be normal.

Does it sound absurd? How do we make it more surd?

Is it abstract? How do we make it more stract?

Do you feel abused? Would you rather feel used?

If I surrender Dorothy, am I not also rendering Dorothy? I think I need my prefixes fixed.

Don’t worry about the tense or the intent. If you feel intensely, your meaning will be intelligible.

Who cares what words mean? Just let them flow.

Mellifluously, meandering, leaving behind the correct change only miasma of snack machine vocabulary.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mail Call


April 25, 2013

Mail’s in. Letters and notes (real or imagined,) have flooded into my inbox in recent weeks. Well, flooded might not be the right term, but the heel of my left shoe got wet somehow, and not just because I was standing near the bus station urinals. Of course, I’m going to have to hide the identity of the senders, ‘cause I can’t afford a lawyer.
Like who can?

These first few are in response to Talking Birds.

Being a talking bird, I am having a hard time identifying with the birds in these jokes - Cornelius Cockatoo, Clifton Park, NY.

You’re a talking bird – cute. What kind of bird is a Cornelius, anyway?

I am saddened and disappointed in the cruel and pointless savagery of America’s greatest intrepid reporter, Geraldo Rivera, in your recent post, Talking Birds. Was this some pointless stunt to get ratings? You would do better to learn from Geraldo’s sterling example. Mr. Rivera has exemplified the pinnacle of courage and professionalism in the field of television journalism for more than a generation (which is amazing because he still looks so incredibly handsome and youthful.) – Gerry Rivers, Fox Studios.

I feel bad. Poor, Geraldo Rivera. All he does is makes huge money doing the kind of television that reduces America’s collective IQ. By the way, “Gerry,” you used example and exemplified in adjoining sentences. You might want to edit that before you go to air.

Headley: You blew the “Bird that Can Talk” joke. If I knew you were going to screw it up, I never would have told you the joke back in ’76. And you wonder why I never return your calls. – Bill W. World Traveler, Earth.

Hi Bill: Sorry about that. Thanks for embarrassing me. If you feel like seeing other planets besides Earth, come by sometime. I just bought a new hammer.

Here’s one I got in response to the post, Heroes Are Special Too.

Dear Headley: Long time no see? Remember me? We went to high school together. Remember how in algebra class, Miss Stricter once made you stand at the board the whole class period until you could show the work on the answers you bought from Bobbie-Jeanne on the only test you passed that year? Remember how you cried and sniffed, till snot ran down your collar?

You remember that, don’t you, Buddy? That was the day that the super-hot foreign exchange babe from Norway said something to you in the lunch room and you were sure she wanted you until we looked up the words in the library and they were, “you’ve got snot on your collar?”

Man that was the best day! Later, at gym, you forgot to leave your underwear on under your gym shorts and Coach Sadist made you climb the rope. Everyone was calling you, Pee Wee the rest of the year (except the people that were calling you, Snotty.)

Wow, it’s great catching up with you, Buddy! I remember that Robin costume hanging in your closet. I always wondered what that was all about. Man, what great memories! We gotta get together some time and relive the old times – Best Friend, Home Town, USA.

Dear Best: You seem to have me confused with someone else. We’ve never met.

Here are two notes I got after Bad Poetry??

I need a tutorial on how to comment at Go Figure Reads. (please.) – Poetry Lady, Winston-Salem, NC.

Dear Poetry - This is why I got that hammer I was talking to Bill W. about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The people at Go Figure Reads are too good at ducking.

Did you mean Poisson or was that part of the humor? Historical Editor – the Great Southwest.

Dear Historical – Anything that makes you laugh is absolutely intentional – no matter what anybody (even I (see, I said I even though me sounds more natural) says.)

I have time for one more before my computer reformats the hard drive again (everyone’s a critic.) I’m not sure what post they’re responding to, possibly Gadgets? I’m very excited about this one.

From: Mr. Wong Du

Seoul, South Korea.

I will introduce myself I am Mr. Wong du a Banker working in a bank in south Korea Until now I am the account officer to most of the south Korea government accounts and I have since discovered that most of the account are dormant account with a lot of money in the account on further investigation I found out that one particular account belong to the former president of south Korean MR PARK CHUNG HEE, who ruled south Korean from 1963-1979 and this particular account has a deposit of $48m with no next of kin.

My proposal is that since I am the account officer and the money or the account is dormant and there is no next of kin obviously the account owner the former president of South Korea has died long time ago, that you should provide an account for the money to be transferred.

The money that is floating in the bank right now is $48m and this is what I want to transfer to your account for our mutual benefit.

Please if this is okay by you I will advice that you contact me through my direct email address.

Please this transaction should be kept confidential. For your assistance as the account owner we shall share the money on equal basis.

Your reply will be appreciated,

Thank you.

Wong Du

My ship has come in! My next post will be from my castle in the Bahamas! If they don’t have any, I’ll buy a spare one and ship it over! I KNEW this blogging thing would work out!



Monday, April 22, 2013

Bad Poetry???


April 22, 2013

Some years back, everybody decided that it was time to send business envelopes that opened at the bottom instead of the top. There was no grand announcement, no note of explanation – it just started happening. I remember the first time I got one from Scurrilous and Scummy, a temp agency I worked for. I thought – isn’t this like Scurrilous and Scummy to have their envelopes printed upside down.

But it wasn’t just S&S. I started getting them from everywhere. If everyone but you is in on it, does that still count as a conspiracy? Maybe it’s just an update of my getting picked for kickball experience. I knew when they picked everyone, including a sleeping cat, but me – and nobody said a word that I was the only person not in on it.

Sneaky cat – pretending to sleep and hiding his little feline snickers.

I feel that way about poetry. What is good poetry? Everybody else seems to know, but me. In grade school it was a mystery to everyone. We’d have a passage like:

Come not, when I am dead,
To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave,
To trample round my fallen head,
And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst not save.
There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;
But thou, go by.

All of us kids would scrunch our underdeveloped noses while the teacher would go on about how brilliant Mr. Pompous Dead Poet was. Then years later – my classmates stopped scrunching their noses and said – “yeah, cool.”

Heck! Even Robin Williams, a guy I usually understand, is in on this one. He did a whole movie about how great poetry is, and how it’s supposed to drive adolescent boys to suicide.

Did anyone else understand this? Really?

Stop saying arrested development; I think it’s mass hypnosis. We knew better in third grade, now it’s, “Oh, poetry is so beautiful, meaningful, moving… except Headley’s”

Even at Go Figure Reads – a place you’d think would be on my side at least once, they talk about Stanley's poetry. “Stanley, I was so moved about how you went to church and talk about God and stuff.” Then they talk about Will's poetry. “Will, I love your little children’s story poems about ships and ducks and baseball.”

Church, God, ships, ducks, and baseball? C’mon, what’s so hard about that? It looks pretty easy to me. So I write a couple of poems and submit them to Go Figure Reads

Nobody says a word, but I swear I heard a cat snickering.

Okay, I get it. Go Figure Reads is not going to publish my poems, but I have this blog, now. I sorted through my collection and found the one that’s not a lymric – maybe I’ll give you those later.



Sir Isaac Phishernife



Sir Isaac Phishernife

Had but one goal in life

Which was fine with his wife

She was not one for strife



Though a very small lad
 

He heard from his dad

There was much to be had

So he should be glad



Though he would prefer

To seek possion du jour

He put away line and lure

And to his duty made sure



As a young squire

He was urged by his sire

To seek and acquire

More knightly attire



While still a young knight

He was sent out to fight

Any monster or blight

That was fearsome of sight



When the peers did accord

To make him a lord

He gave out from his hoard

Gifts he could not afford



As an earl of the realm

Wearing buckler and helm

He did host the Duke Ghelm

Though the costs overwhelm



When a Duke he was made

To the king he was bade

And before him were laid

Tasks that made him afraid



And then he was prince

No more need to wear chintz

There were whispers and hints

He’d be king not long since



And then golden plate

They did lay on his pate

But he took hold of his fate

And said, “I abdicate!”



He declared with a jeer

I’ll not be king, duke or peer

But by stream, lake or mere

I will set down my rear



And my tasks now shall be

To lean back on a tree

And with lure, worm or bee

Try to catch two or three”



So Sir Isaac and Ma’am

Live and fish by the dam

And if no fish nearby swam?

They just bake a nice ham



So, what do you think, huh? Send me an email: headleyh@hotmail.com

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gadgets


April 18, 2013

I once bought something out of a catalog. I’m not sure why I did it. I think it was a subliminal thing like the vending machine impulse. You look at a vending machine with all those curly-queue prongs holding up bags of chips and crackers. Nothing looks good to you, but you pump sixty-five cents into the machine to see the prongs turn and half-hope that the bag of chips will get stuck against the Plexiglas wall so you can rock the machine.

Of course you eat the chips – what else are you going to do with them? But what you really paid for was the idea of seeing the machine work.

You don’t believe me? Then why do so many people get their videos out of Red Box instead of their public library? It’s the only reason some movies are seen at all.

So I ordered something from a catalog, savored the anticipation of its arrival, was disappointed with what it was, and probably gave it to Goodwill a few months later. I don’t even remember what it was, but I have a lasting remembrance of the experience – my mailbox hosts ten or twelve catalogs a month.

Finding late nineteenth century Russian literature a little slow going, I’ve become an avid catalog reader – Harriet Carter, Heartland America, Carol Wright – even Publisher’s Clearinghouse who constantly threatens me with money lost if I don’t respond. It kind of reminds me of the classic, Santa will put coal in your stocking threat. Most of the catalogs are in the standard magazine form, but some like to give you an envelope full of one-page glossy ads. I love them all. The envelope makes a bigger mess of my couch, but each glossy page is the perfect size and shape for a paper airplane.

There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason why each catalog comes to me. I’ve gotten catalogs for professional women, or for new mothers. I even get scary catalogs full of knives, crossbows, and instruction booklets on how to properly filet Federal agents. (I usually forward those to my Congressperson.)

So why am I obsessed with this ersatz form of literature? I’d tell you if I had any idea what ersatz meant. There’s no plot, and so reading the last page doesn’t ruin the mystery. (Actually, I can’t read a mystery without reading the ending first. If I don’t feel superior to the detective and his/her host of two-dimensional flunkies, what’s the point of reading that genre at all? BTW, this might be a good time to announce that book four of the Headley Hauser genre series will be a mystery, tentatively titled, Staying Dead in LA.)

So why do I read catalogs? I read them for their one common theme – gadgets.

You’re not going to make your living sending out catalogs, and charging exorbitant shipping, if you’re going to offer the same stuff people can find at their local WalMart. People are only going to risk sending their credit card information to your minimum wage customer service personnel (read: potential identity thieves,) if what you offer is something they never knew existed.

One of my favorite catalogs was actually titled: Things You Never Knew Existed. I loved that catalog, but sadly, they stopped sending it to me. I guess they didn’t appreciate the gratis service I provided for them. On each order form I scribbled down dozens of item numbers and wrote in the payment section, “I knew these existed.” Then I sealed my helpful message up in their postage paid envelope.

Some people can’t accept a favor.

I could still go to the website, but who wants to read off the computer? (This would be a good time to mention that the Headley Hauser genre series is available for download so you can read it on your PC or Mac.) (Of course, the Genre Series is only Trouble in Taos for now, ‘cause Go Figure Reads moves like a seven-year-old sent to fetch canned broccoli when it comes to publishing my stories.)

Like most works of fiction, catalogs draw you through long pages of mundane to get to the good stuff.

Nothing like a personal bidet – as long as your aim is good. For every Personal Hygene Refresher, you see a dozen workout machines that promise rock-hard abs in twelve seconds a day.

Here are two more treats from the recent Harriet Carter catalog

The Solar Tropical Birds – they sit there conspiratorially all day and jiggle about when the wind blows, then having sucked up sunlight, they glow and disturb your dreams each night. If you’ve always wanted to be haunted by Disney World’s Tiki Room, these are the gadgets for you!
The Squirrel Chaser (three to a box.) They say that these little pouches contain a scent that squirrels don’t like. Clearly, the intent of these gadgets is to spank the little critters, presumably to encourage them to get better grades in rodent school. (It never worked for me.)

Or how about this one from a catalog I can't recall?


Yup – gophers to light your walkway at night. Freddy Kruger would shiver at that sight.

If I may be serious for a moment (seriously serious,) I would like to propose gadgets that I’ve never seen that certainly should have been invented by now. These ideas are gold that I am throwing out into the winds of blogdom. Some scrappy entrepreneur will snag these up and make millions off them. (I expect a generous gratuity.)

1) The bend-over shoulder strap. You’re headed out to social services; you have a knapsack on one shoulder and a laptop bag on the other. You exit your apartment and as you lock your door, you notice a rent overdue notice lying inconveniently on your no; you’re not welcome, go away mat. You can’t just leave it there for the loan shark to see when he comes to break you pinkies later, so you bend over to pick it up… Crash, crash! Down comes your knapsack on top of your over-aged laptop. The loan shark and the land lord hear the destruction of your singular tool of writing hope, and an ugly and digitally inauspicious scene ensues.

For the benefit of fingers, laptop, and overall stealth, why don’t they have shoulder straps that stay on your shoulders? Sure, I could put BOTH shoulder straps on with my knapsack, but that’s too much work. The purpose of modern technology is to allow cretins such as myself do as little as possible and still keep working pinkies.

2) Faucet with temperature memory buttons. This seems like a no-brainer. They have memory settings on radios where the worst thing that might happen to you is you get a second and a half of steel guitar on the way to repeat audio broadcasts of Headley and the Rug (and Cral.) Sink and especially shower faucets can scar you for life with 211, or 33 degree water when you first turn it on. Plus, I’m not too good maneuvering my joystick… I mean the one on the faucet. I can never get it to the right position for the temperature I want. I end up with warm Cool-Aid and cold dishwashing soap (or would if I ever got around to washing my dishes.)

3) A master shut-off switch. Visitors come to call – unwelcome mat notwithstanding. In every generation we seem to breed a certain percentage of drop-ins. Shooting them is illegal in forty-nine states, but fooling them isn’t. The problem is that at any given time, you have half a dozen lights or entertainment gadgets going when you’re home. There’s never time to shut everything down before they get to your door. How hard would it be to have one switch that turns off all the stuff they see without also turning off the refrigerator, the alarm system, and Uncle Herbert’s respirator?

4) A Tim greet. Do you hate tail-gaiters? What to do? Back in upstate NY, I knew a guy named Tim. Tim didn’t like people crowding him in line. His solution was that he learned to fart on demand. (He could also belch the alphabet through Q, but that’s not important.) Unfortunately, if you fart when someone tailgates you, you are the only one to suffer. A single shot of concentrated methane coming out of your (vehicular) tailpipe might do the trick. In the winter it would be methane vapors, which would attach themselves to the heater coils of the offending tailgater – a slower, but more lasting reminder to stay five car lengths back!

Even if these gadgets don’t work as advertised, there’s money to be made here. Just like the over-priced potato (potatoe if you’re a former VP,) chips in vending machine, the purpose of the gadget is not the quality of the product – just the idea of seeing the machine work.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Talking Birds


I have trouble remembering jokes. I’ll hear a joke and think, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer that next time I see him.”

I see Elmer. I open my mouth. The only words I remember are, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer that next time I see him.” I decided it would work better if I said to myself, “I gotta remember to tell Elmer (insert joke here) next time I see him.” Of course if it’s a long joke that can make a pretty hefty moment of reverie for me. I tend to stare off in space with my mouth open when I having a moment of silent reflection. Those few who know me are used to it.

“Look, Headley’s trying to remember your joke to steal it later.”

“He’ll never pay me for it.”

“That’s okay, nobody pays him either!” Derisive laughter follows.

The way I measure true friends are those who relish schadenfreude. If I’m going to live a miserable existence, I want people I like to get some joy of it.

There’s something about a talking bird though, that helps me remember a joke. Whenever my sister, Henrietta had a secret, she always attributed it to a little bird telling her. Henrietta didn’t laugh so much. Maybe her birds weren’t so funny. I thought these three were, so here are three talking bird jokes that I’ve stolen… just for you. (The just for you part makes it sound special, and maybe less morally and legally (?) wrong.)

Jesus is Watching

So Geraldo Rivera (there is no reason to make this about Geraldo Rivera – I just don’t like him,) having cased a house and determined that no one is home, goes in to commit grand larceny. Right away he sees he’s going to do better than he did with Al Capone’s crypt as there’s a high end stereo and autographed Beatle’s albums in the living room. As he’s walking out with a stack of 50-year-old LPs including Rubber Soul, he hears, “Jesus is watching you.” Geraldo spins around so fast he almost drops his revolver (the album, he’s not armed. Can you imagine Geraldo armed? He’s shoot his foot off.)

Geraldo sees no one, so he continues his felonious ways. He finds a signed, prototype George Forman grill in the kitchen, along with many other gadgets he’s seen plied on cooking segments but couldn’t use to save his life. As he gathers them all up, he hears, “Jesus is watching you.” Geraldo jumps so high that George Forman knocks him dizzy, but when he comes to, Geraldo doesn’t see anyone, so he goes back to creeping. (He’s good at creeping – ask any network he’s worked for. He’s a first class creep.)

Geraldo gets to the bedroom. There he finds a wide selection of top quality sex toys. Finally! something a dil.. like Geraldo can relate to! He’s gathering up the toys when he hears for a third time (says the joke teller unnecessarily as you all can count,) “Jesus is watching you.”

There in the bedroom is a parrot on a perch. (Which is a little unsettling considering all the sex toys in the room, but the joke is not related to that – or at least so the monsignor who related the joke to me reported when I asked.)

Did you say that?” asks Geraldo Rivera.

Yes,” says the parrot obligingly. “I’m Moses, the talking parrot.” (Yeah redundant – what are you gonna do?)

Geraldo laughs in that boisterous, condescending, disingenuous, and irritating way that has gotten him punched in the nose on a few glorious occasions.
  “What kind of people name their parrot, Moses?!?”

The parrot motions over to the solitary exit from the bedroom, and says, “the same kind of people that name their Doberman, Jesus.”

Don’t like that one? Don’t worry, they get worse.

A Bird that Can Talk

A man walks into a pet store. (No, I have no idea why it has to be a man – presumably it wasn’t a panda, but it could easily have been a woman – but Bill Whitford, who told me this joke 37 years ago and is not returning my calls anymore, didn’t elaborate. Maybe he was frustrated by my overuse of parenthetical expressions. Hey! at least I don’t use hand quotes – those are really annoying.)

He says to the owner, “do you have a bird that can talk? I’ve always wanted a bird that can talk.”

The pet store owner motions to a bird and says, “this type of bird can talk. You can have him for a thousand dollars.” (Bill used a lower figure, but those were 1976 dollars which were worth a lot more, though when I spend a bicentennial quarter, nobody is interested in giving me anything extra for it.)

Gee,” says the nameless adult male that walked into a pet store, “a thousand dollars is a lot of money,”

He comes with the cage,” says the owner to keep the joke moving. (Imagine if I had to go through the whole process of him buying the cage, the feed, the little bird mirror, and all the other stuff that pet store owners say you HAVE TO buy after you’ve purchased a bird or they will report you to the ASPCA.)

(I wonder if Geraldo Rivera was ever a pet store owner.)

Alright,” says the man in the joke that doesn’t own the pet store. (The pet store owner is gender non-identified. I think Geraldo once did a special on gender non-identified pet store owners, but was – sadly – not punched in the nose, so don’t bother looking for it.)

He (the gender identified customer) pays the (gender non-identified) owner, takes the bird and leaves.

Two days later he (being a male-specific third person pronoun in a joke with only one gender-specific character) returns with the bird. “You said this bird can talk,” the man complains. “I’ve been talking to it and feeding it crackers, but not a word.”

Ah,” says the pet store owner, “sometimes there’s a problem with this breed. Their beaks are so large and heavy that they don’t lift them to talk. It’s easily solved though. Someone (gender unspecified) that knows what they’re doing can file it down. I know how to do it, and will do it for two hundred dollars.”

I don’t know,” says the man (exhibiting stereotypical male cheapness,) “I’ll just do it myself.”

All right, but you better be careful,” says the owner, “’cause if you file it down too short, you expose blood vessels and you kill your bird.”

I’ll be careful,” says the man.

The next day, the man returns to the pet store with an empty cage. He’s looking very sad.

You killed your bird, didn’t you,” says the owner.

The man nods.

You filed its beak too short?”

No,” says the man. “I crushed its head in the vice.”


This last joke is one I modified into song form for my popularly ignored, and critically unclaimed hit: Headley and the Rug (and Cral.) The tune is My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.
Here's the tune
 
Amanda

I once had a parrot, Amanda

Who did constantly swear, curse, and grouse

I put her out on the veranda

but still hear her through all of the house

chorus

Stop that, stop that

Stop that, Amanda, I plead, I plead

Stop that, stop that

Your language is dreadful indeed.

verse 2

I’d yell, but she only got louder

I threw blanket and sheet o’er her cage


But I’d hear, loud and clear, through that shrouder

And that’s when I’d cry in my rage

repeat chorus

verse 3

The vet said I couldn’t use vice locks

I didn’t know what I should do

And so I threw her in the ice box

When I pulled her out, she’d turned blue

modified chorus

Warm up, warm up

Warm up, Amanda, I cry, I cry

Warm up, warm up

If you don’t thaw soon, you’ll die

instrumental interlude punctuated with Amanda squawking.

verse 4

Said Amanda, I’ll heed your suggestion

And clean up my act, she did coo

But I have just one nagging question

What did the frozen turkey do?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nodding Off


April 11, 2013



So I’m talking to Walt at the palatial offices of Go Figure Reads the other day. I want him to explain why he has three of my submissions just sitting on the shelf. Other than carping about bad grammar, he pretty much ignores my books. Instead he’s going on and on about a book that Stanley McFarland is writing about the Freedman movement after the Civil War, and how these champions of liberty are ignored.

So I ask him – “what’s the difference between freedom and liberty?”

Walt scratches his underworked head and points to a poster of Stanley, an 8 by 10 of Will Wright, and a black and white thumbnail of me. “Stanley,” he says, “is like liberty because he takes stands to defend the rights of others. Will is like freedom because he exercises those rights.”

“What about me,” I ask?

“It’s a logical progression,” says Walt. “Liberty, freedom, freedumber.”

I don’t like Walt.



I don’t follow popular gossip. I never figured out how to get TV channels after they left analog, and didn’t care enough to ask for help. Mostly, I learn stuff from listening to others. That’s how I heard about Tiger and Lindsey.

My first thought was that Tiger Woods was seeing Lindsey Lohan: a match made in heaven! It turns out that it’s some other Lindsey. She is pretty, and blonde, and known to the entire world – except me. To me she is just – a Lindsey that is not a Lohan.

The notorious Thanksgiving incident that revealed Tiger’s infidelity didn’t surprise me. They guy was trying too hard to have a positive public image – like A-Rod, Marie Osmond, and gold medal winning decathlete, Bruce Jenner. This is always a bad sign. Now A-Rod’s steroid use is public knowledge and while Marie and Bruce’s conspiracy to sneak malicious space aliens onto Dancing With the Stars has not yet been confirmed – it’s just a matter of time (and space) until the National Enquirer gives us all the details.

People who try that hard are up to no good.

I worry about Tom Hanks.

But I have an additional reason to suspect Tiger Woods and the apparent rehabilitation of his public image – he plays golf.

Golf is that ubiquitous game for which millions of men pine all work-week, then spend their few precious hours of weekend leisure time building up a lather of frustration resulting in unappealing foot odor.

Those less affluent, or in the northern climes watch it on TV, usually through their eye-lids.

The Masters starts today, and it’s as good a time as any to blow the lid off the conspiracy of how a game that is almost as exciting to watch as checkers is so popular across the country.

Who’s behind the conspiracy, you ask? (You ask the best questions.)

Who isn’t? I reply.

How about Major League Baseball?
 What better way to make a game like baseball look exciting than to have it on right after three hours of guys walking slowly around a stationary ball, stand over it carefully, and tap it with an over-priced upside-down cane? At least in baseball, the shortstop or center fielder moves moderately fast two or three times an hour.

The recliner manufacturers of America? Big Cliner (as I call them) sells hundreds of thousands of truly ugly living room furnishings every year. Six days a week these behemoths serve as places to lose cheese puffs, remote controls, or small cats. On Sunday afternoons, they suddenly justify their existence by providing a viable environment for watching golf on television. You can watch golf on a couch, but not if family members object to you stretching out. The process of stretching out includes scrunching up and man-drooling the decorative cushions – a natural process many American females find objectionable.

No, I don’t understand why either.

Man-drool only seasons a recliner.

The Association for the Detection of Sleep Apnea. I’m not sure this association really exists. When I was a kid, sleep apnea was what we always called Dad snoring. What affection I might have for golf comes not from watching it myself, but watching my father watch golf. Fourteen minutes and thirty-seven seconds into each golf broadcast, Dad slipped into eyelid observation mode. The recliner back, and Diet Pepsi slowly slipping from the armrest, Dad punctuated the sedate commentary with truly magnificent wood-sawing. Dad snored so loud that Barney the hound dog that lived three doors down couldn’t resist the temptation to add his own harmony. Just before the reverberations caused damage to our house’s foundation (nothing could hurt the recliner,) Dad would snort and wake up with a start. He’d look around to see me laughing, often joined by siblings, friends, or occasionally firemen called by neighbors fearing seismic damage to the neighborhood.

“Quiet,” Dad would say, “Nicholas is putting. I want to hear this.”

Like so many harmless diversions of yesterday, (dodge ball, airplane glue, swirlies from which the NSA developed water-boarding) Dad snoring has become a serious threat to the health and well-being of the American public. Armies of public servants are now charged with studying its effects between games of Spider on their government computers.

Without golf on TV this vitally important bureaucracy would be forced to find other ways to spend tax-payer money. As I said, I’m not sure the Association for the Detection of Sleep Apnea exists, but no conspiracy is worth its tin-foil hats without a government component.

The final component of our conspiracy… Wives.

I have to say this in a subdued tone because talking about wives is no longer permissible in thirty-seven states. Henny Youngman never made a single remark that didn’t disparage a domestic engineer.

He’d be in Guantanamo if he were alive today. Disparaging remarks are now limited to men/husbands/fathers. If you don’t believe me, let the TiVo remote lay there and watch some commercials.

But I don’t mean this in a disparaging fashion – more in a forensic fashion. (BTW, forensic – a word used only by professionals before Jack Klugman played Quincy, is now so ubiquitous that it should be a crime.)

In any crime or conspiracy investigation, you must ask the question – who benefits? With golf on TV each Sunday afternoon, millions of men sleep peacefully in their recliners. What might all the wives of those men accomplish?

The promotion of misandristic messaging on television commercials?

Postmortem incarceration of Henny Youngman?

Post-hypnotic obsessions for their husbands to leave the toilet seat down?


It all makes sense when you think about it. The benefits of golf on TV even moved women-kind to forgive Tiger Woods and let him date a Lindsey that is not a Lohan.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Heroes Are Special Too


You know why April 8th is so special?

I don’t either.

It has to be special to someone. I figure it’s the birthday of roughly 1/365th (and a quarter) of the population of the planet, but beyond that – I’m stymied. Being stymied, though it might sound pleasant, is not good when you’re trying to put something up that people want to read twice a week.

But every day is special, just as every person is special – or so said Elastogirl in The Incredibles. But if you’ve seen the movie, you know her son Flash responded with the depressing and too true response of, “Which means nobody is.”

Back before Flash was a pixel in Brad Bird’s eye, I attempted to foist on the American public (I won’t tell you what public I was around before that,) my first article. It was about heroes, and specialness. It’s also in the increasingly UNPUBLISHED Headley Makes Sense, a chapbook Go Figure Reads is aggressively ignoring.

So in celebration of April 8thEvery Day Is Special Day – I present…


Heroes




Let’s be honest, How do we really feel about heroes? If you saw a guy parading around in tights with a red cape would your first impulse be admiration?

As a child of the sixties I dutifully watched the myriad shows of hero propaganda. It was expected that we would not only view these shows, but that we would incorporate them into our dreams and aspirations. My brother used to sashay about with sword and black cape marking snow banks with a bold Z. George, the kid next door, leapt over tall rocks in a single bound. Being able (as all 7 year olds are) to read dog dreams I knew my poodle fantasized about being Rin Tin Tin. The choice one made about which hero to emulate had a mystic quality that we kids (and canines) knew without understanding. (Or did we understand without knowing?)

You might ask, “What about you buddy? What hero did you pick?”

That’s a pretty rude question and it makes me wonder if your parents raised you with any manners but I’ll answer it anyway.

I was Robin – you know, as in Batman and…

Yeah, I heard that snicker. Green shorts, red shirt and a yellow cape, I walked into Mrs. O’Hearn’s second grade class looking like a stop light with chubby legs. And everyone knew that I was Headley. The mask didn’t throw anyone off. I wonder if Dick Grayson had this problem? Far from the respect I was looking for, I actually got a bit of teasing about it. Which brings me to my question, how do we really feel about heroes?

Several years ago, the television world was taken by storm with Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules series. Snubbed by people wealthy enough to own a working TV, I rarely watched the show, but was fascinated with the response it evoked. Could it be that we as a society had reverted to our tastes of the early 60s? Shortly after Hercules became a hit, it produced the spin-off “Zena, Warrior Princess.” An ardent Zena fan (the opposite of a xenophobe?) informed me that the princess in question started out as a villain; that she murdered many innocent people, set villages afire and had shady dealings with a number of savings and loans before reforming her ways. Upon further investigation, I found that Hercules, having killed an innocent man, was sentenced to live 3 years as a transvestite (no, I’m not making this up, check Bullfinches’ Mythology). The Greeks were nothing if not innovative. Perhaps such creative sentencing might help our court system. (Don’t look at my hat Jack! I’m on parole!) My search for traditional hero worship continued, unsatisfied.

In recent decades, political candidates with exemplary records have finished a distant second to those of questionable character. Spin-masters try to tell us that the latter are heroes in disguise, but I think it’s time we faced facts. We’re just not a people comfortable with the honest, the noble, the brave. Few of us are willing to stand for the American way (whatever that is). How often do you see boy scouts in uniform, acts of self-sacrifice, or second graders dressed as questionable sidekicks?

So, you ask, am I here to move society from its wayward path; to reestablish honor and over-all good-guyliness; to bring back the fashion statements of Justice?!

Nah, don’t look at me, I’m no hero.